After getting signed two months ago, linebacker Mason Foster could finally get his opportunity to start, this time on the national stage against the Cowboys.
After two months of waiting, studying and learning, backup Mason Foster's patience could be rewarded with his first start as a middle linebacker tonight, when the Redskins host the Cowboys on Monday Night Football.
On an occasion that might be slightly overwhelming in the national spotlight, especially in a game that has tremendous stakes against a division rival, the fifth-year veteran has played a lot of football in his career and gained a lot of experience on stages such as this.
"That's a big game but I've played in a lot of big games before," Foster said. "I'm excited man, like I said I want to do whatever I can to help this team win. So I'm just going to keep studying hard, get prepared, go out there Monday night and have a blast."
Foster, who's mostly played on special teams for the Redskins, was signed near the end of September due to concerns over injuries to Perry Riley Jr. and Keenan Robinson. Now, he will likely start because of them, after Riley Jr. was listed out for 3-6 weeks with a stress fracture to his foot and Robinson continues to battle various injuries, including to his shoulder.
In four seasons with the Buccaneers, Foster developed as a starter at inside linebacker, totaling 343 tackles, 12 passes defensed, six sacks, five interceptions, two forced fumbles and two touchdowns. After a short, unsuccessful stint in training camp with the Bears, who cut him in early September, Foster feels as though he can contribute right away.
"I think with the coaches here, and the way this whole organization is run, it's real competitive," Foster said. "So even when I was only getting a couple reps with Perry, and throughout the week to play a certain position, I was still competing at a high level on scout team, going against [Jordan] Reed, going against Matt Jones and everybody, so you're ready to play."
Guiding him through this transition has been fellow linebacker Adam Hayward, who was Foster's former teammate and "big brother" in Tampa Bay, acting as a mentor through the first couple years of his career.
The Washington Redskins on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015, announced the signing of linebacker Mason Foster. Take a look at his NFL career in photos.
"Having him here is definitely been helpful," Foster said. "Even little stuff as far as finding a place to live and everything, helping me with little stuff on the defense -- being able to translate the stuff I knew in Tampa and the stuff that we do here has been real helpful. Dashon [Goldson] was down there, too. It's definitely made things easier."
Foster will play alongside Will Compton, who hit it off with Foster right away thanks to the common connection of Lavonte David, a linebacker for the Buccaneers and former teammate of Compton's at Nebraska. Foster sits next to Compton in team meetings and has benefited under his teammate's leadership.
"I'm not too worried about it," Compton said of playing with Foster for the first time. "He knows what he's doing. He's a pro. He's been a starter for four years. He knows how to handle himself. I'm not worried."
That seems to be the same sentiment from head coach Jay Gruden, as he and general manager Scot McCloughan continue to find ways to plug holes for their injured veterans. So far, all the fixes have worked.
"I know how quickly something can happen. When you're the next guy up, people outside, coaches upstairs, they don't want to see no let down, no let off, don't flinch, like [defensive coordinator] Joe [Barry] says," Foster said. "Just keep pushing forward and keep going and do whatever I can to play as hard as possible to get this win on Monday."